Posted on Saturday 9 April 2011 by Ulster Business

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster , US Envoy Declan Kelly, Terence Brannigan and John McIlwaine, at the launch of Connected Health LTD in Fermanagh

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster , US Envoy Declan Kelly, Terence Brannigan and John McIlwaine, at the launch of Connected Health LTD in Fermanagh

One of Northern Ireland's most prominent businessmen, Terence Brannigan, has announced plans for a new connected health venture that will provide a range of technology-based home health services for elderly people.

Connected Health Ltd's services and products will be aimed at both local and export markets and has the potential to create a range of new high value jobs in the field of telehealth - which uses innovative technology to assist elderly people to live more independent lives at home. Led by a team of experienced professionals, it will operate in four health sectors - domiciliary care, telecare, telehealth and mental wellbeing - using an integrated platform known as Connexion. Sited in Co Fermanagh the platform was developed by the McIlwaine Group's Health Services Division, Smart, which will form a integral part of the new company. Alongside Mr Brannigan and McIlwaine Group founder John McIlwaine, the company's board will also include former Compass executive Nick Thomas, healthcare specialist Brian O'Connor and Dr John Kelly, the founder of Fingerprint Learning. Mr Brannigan, current CBI chairman and former director of Compass Group and Resource, told Ulster Business he felt there was a big opportunity for any business prepared to take an innovative approach to healthcare, and the social, financial and health implications arising from cutbacks in public sector budgets. "Connected health is the only way, with an ageing population, that we are going to be able to afford the levels and quality of care that we require as public expenditure is cut back. There is a genuine capability to deliver care better, to keep people in their homes but at the same time improve the quality of care and seriously reduce the cost of care," he said. The company has already won business and Mr Brannigan's intention is to replicate the buy and build model he used to build resource into a market leader. "We are in the throes of making further acquisitions and at the same time we are tendering for business in Northern Ireland and in the Republic and across in GB," he said.
"We’ve done significant research, we've got the right people on board, we've got interest from the technology companies and government, and we've made the investment and commitment to it. I would be very confident this will be a very significant export business."
Initially Mr Brannigan saw an opportunity to compete in domiciliary care - a fragmented industry which currently has 5,000 outsourced providers across the UK and Ireland and costs the UK and Ireland £10.5bn. But in the medium term he sees telehealth - the application of technology to actively monitor the health of the elderly and vulnerable in their own homes - as the "future of medicine". The new company will also add a new mental wellbeing programme - developed as a means of reducing the risk of mental decline, depression and dementia - to the innovative platform already developed by McIlwaine Group. "We can deliver from that platform right across the UK and Ireland. We will have the capability from that platform of delivering into North America. But we want to ensure that we walk before we run," said Brannigan. "There is massive potential in North America, so the idea would be to grow it across UK and Ireland and then grow it into North America. US Economic Envoy Declan Kelly is helping advise as to how and where in North America we should take this when we decide to go there," he added. Global firms such as Bosch, Intel/GE, Panasonic and Philips have already invested billions in Connected Health technology, but Brannigan says his company appears to be one of the few service providers who can deliver an end-to-end solution. "We've got in early to create an end-to-end solution in order that we can co-operate with all the technology companies to deliver the solution into the health service. We seem to have caught it early as there's not another comparable platform around," he said. "We have done our homework, we haven't taken a flier. We've done significant research, we've got the right people on board, we've got interest from the technology companies and government, and we've made the investment and commitment to it. I would be very confident this will be a very significant export business."

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